Locative and Utopian: The Peter Triangle

An important concept that has come up every single day of class is that of the Locative vs. Utopian worldviews. The locative worldview is something like, “I am in the place in society that I need to be and that is the way it needs to be. I can’t change it.” The utopian worldview, on the other hand, simply says, “There is a better way.” In discussion we were mainly talking about political systems (the utopian worldview in opposition to empire) but also religious systems (the unity of Islam in opposition to the polytheism that previously created separation in the Arabian tribes). This was often characterized by looking at class structures and societal shapes. The shape of an unjust empire that Islam was standing against was drawn on the board every single day of class (see below). The last time it was drawn, Friday, the class legitimately cheered because it had become such a big part of what Peter was trying to teach. There is the large, subjected working class. There is the clerical middle class, which during the times of the Abrahamic religious traditions, was made up of mostly priests and religious leaders. Then there was the single ruling class, which, during the Abrahamic era, was a single King. The theta above the “Peter Triangle” is the divine, or in this case the use of the divine to validate the nature of society.

So, what does this have to do with Islam? Islam is part of the “prophetic tradition” that Norman O. Brown (one of the author’s of third week) extrapolates. The prophets of the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible, and Muhammad himself were protesters, movement organizers, and fought against the evils and injustices that they saw in a world that was supposed to be God’s kingdom; or so the story goes. Essentially, these are people who have a utopian worldview and want to see the triangle below turned upside down or at least rearranged. That’s the tradition that we studied during third week, with the help of Crossan’s God and Empire, Norman O. Brown’s The Problem of Islam: The Prophetic Tradition, Shedinger’s Was Jesus a Muslim?.